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PJ Media encourages you to read our updated PRIVACY POLICY and COOKIE POLICY.

How Dumb Do You Have to Be to Be a Criminal?


In a study that it is sure to make Leftist heads explode, the Finns have discovered an inverse  correlation between intelligence and criminal behavior:

Finland is the sort of place where they do things thoroughly, things like testing the intelligence of a total population cohort of Finnish males born in 1987 and following up the results. Gold dust.

They found that lower levels of intelligence are associated with greater levels of offending, that the IQ-offending association is mostly linear, with some curvilinear aspects at highest and lowest levels, and that the pattern is consistent across multiple measures of intelligence and offending. In some ways this is exactly as predicted and already observed, since the available literature shows that individuals with lower IQ are more likely to engage in criminal behaviour. Criminal offending was measured with nine different indicators from official records and intelligence was measured using three subscales (verbal, mathematical, and spatial reasoning) as well as a composite measure. The results show consistent evidence of mostly linear patterns, with some indication of curvilinear associations at the very lowest and the very highest ranges of intellectual ability.

Charts and graphs at the link.

Note that violent crime is an order of magnitude higher in the bottom 20% of the population by ability than the top 20% of population by ability. The pattern is generally a linear one. The subscales of intelligence show the same pattern, though perhaps the spatial scores show a slightly less pronounced differential effect.

People with higher levels of intelligence are more dependable ( Deary et al., 2008b) and conscientious ( Luciano, Wainwright, Wright, & Martin, 2006), suggesting that they are more likely to think about the moral consequences of their actions compared to individuals with lower levels of intelligence. People with lower intelligence have been found to act more impulsively ( de Wit et al., 2007 and Funder and Block, 1989). People with lower levels of impulse control and related constructs, such as low self-control, have also been found to be significantly more likely to engage in various forms of criminal and antisocial behavior ( Gottfredson and Hirschi, 1990,Moffitt et al., 2011 and Pratt and Cullen, 2000). While only preliminary, current research suggests that lower levels of intelligence reduces the ability to weigh the costs and benefits of individual action, resulting in a greater propensity to make impulsive decisions, which in some cases involve illegal behaviour.

I know what you're thinking: we needed a study for this?

It is a minor finding, but the dullest are not quite the most criminal, an honour reserved for those in the 2nd decile of ability. It may be that those in the 1st decile are slightly restricted in their behaviours by their very low ability, and may be under supervision from care givers. Equally minor, there is a slight uptick for criminality in the most intelligent, though hardly the torrent of criminal master-minds beloved of popular entertainments.